Thursday brought the matchup between the 11th pick in Japan’s 2019 draft, 1.71-meter 20-year-old lefty Hiroya Miyagi, and 1.90-meter 19-year-old Roki Sasaki, whose fates were incidentally intertwined as high schoolers.
Miyagi, selected by Orix as their second alternate pick in the draft, is 12-3 this year with a 2.31 ERA for the league leaders, while Sasaki, who was named by four teams, but did not pitch last season at all, entered the game at 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA.
The irony, however, is that Sasaki, who was intensely scouted by MLB teams in high school, reportedly hoped to sign with the Nippon Ham Fighters, and had that happened, the Buffaloes would most likely not have gotten Miyagi.
When the Fighters lost the four-way draft-day lottery for Sasaki, and the Buffaloes missed out on slugging high school third baseman Takaya Ishikawa (Chunichi), both teams went for side-arm lefty Ryusei Kawano.
When the Fighters won that two-way lottery, the Buffaloes, one of two two-time lottery losers that October 17, settled on Miyagi, and have been counting their blessings ever since, no disrespect to Kawano, whom I’ve liked since he was in university, but the side-armer has yet to muster enough command to make a huge impact.